The beginning of every semester is often characterized by one
image – long lines.
Lines to buy textbooks, lines to get a bus pass and lines to beg
a professor to open a space in an already full class section are
frequent the first couple weeks of school.
Many instructors are flooded with requests for overrides into
courses that are already full.
For many students, the thought of letting one – or 10 – more
people into a class seems simple enough, but it leaves many
professors feeling stuck.
Psychology Professor Jerry Deffenbacher said he had to make a
blanket rule that he would not allow any overrides into his
abnormal psychology course.
“The class was full in June and all summer long I got e-mail
requests from students,” Deffenbacher said.
With nearly 80 students asking for an override into the
210-person class, Deffenbacher decided it would be too difficult to
decide whom to grant an override.
Deffenbacher said he will make exceptions in very unusual or
extenuating circumstances, but even then he tells students to watch
the online registration for openings because, invariably, a few
students will drop the course.
“It’s not really my policy,” Deffenbacher said. “As I understand
it, it’s a university-wide situation.”
Deffenbacher referred to the university’s fire codes, which
determine the each campus classroom’s capacity. For instructors,
this translates to not having more students than there are seats in
While this might not be an issue on most days, if a course is
overflowing, there will not be enough seats on exam days.
Public speaking is another course that does not allow overrides
into any of its 75 sections because adding even one person would
require an additional two or three class sessions to have enough
time to get through all the speeches.
“We encourage people who need the class to get in early and
under the mark,” said Dennis Phillips, chair of the Department of
Phillips said that if there were no other options for a student
he would occasionally approve an override.
“We have yet to hold up anybody from graduating,” he said.
However, Phillips said often there are other options that
students either do not know about or simply do not want to use. He
encourages students to meet with their adviser to determine if
another class will fulfill requirements.
“The students, most of the time, are able to be accommodated,”
Phillips said. “I like to think that we’re not unreasonable.”
Shelly Loomis, assistant registrar, said the Registrar’s Office
processes thousands of override approvals each semester. These
overrides include full classes, credit overrides, time conflicts
and issues with prerequisites, among others.
Of these, Loomis said the most common override request is to get
into a full course. The second is when a student has not taken the
prerequisite for a class.
Loomis said the registrar would process any override as long as
the academic department approves it.
“Overrides are fully in their control,” she said. “As long as
they override the student for the appropriate thing, then we’ll
Deffenbacher, however, said students should also be more
flexible in their scheduling.
“It’s not just (students) asking for an override,” he said.
“It’s an override for a popular class at a popular time.”
Trying to get an override? Things to consider:
– Do you have extenuating circumstances? If so, you can probably
get into the class.
– Talk with your adviser and the department head. See if another
class will fulfill the same requirement.
– Can you take the class at another time or another
– Check the online registration daily. Many students drop
classes in the first two weeks of the semester.